Ortofon
Ortofon
Ortofon

Ortofon

The company’s history began in 1918: engineers Arnold Paulson and Axel Petersen teamed up to develop audio equipment for a new field – sound cinema. The company was then called Electrical Phono Film Company, and their goal was to create the world’s first system for scoring films, that is, to come up with a way to accompany video with synchronous sound of good quality. In 1923, Paulson and Petersen developed and received a patent for a synchronous filming system. It worked as follows: sound was recorded onto a separate film strip moving at the average film speed in a film camera. Sound vibrations were recorded by changing the width of the writing stroke (phonogram of variable width).

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On October 12, 1923, the first sound film dubbed in this way was shown at the Palace Theater in Copenhagen. The engineers issued several licenses for the use of their “Petersen and Paulson System” (System Petersen og Poulsen) to European and then American companies that were involved in the production of films.

Ortofon-founders.jpg

After this, the company began producing related equipment: condenser microphones, oscilloscopes, playback amplifiers, and so on. Some film cameras and film projector equipment then developed by Danish engineers remained in use until 1968. Gramophones and the Personal Audio Revolution During World War II, the company was (secretly) improving technology for recording and reproducing sound from phonograph records. The new cutter was a real mini-revolution: it helped expand the recording frequency range from 5 to 14 kHz. By the end of 1945, the Danish record company Tono was already cutting records on new equipment. This became possible thanks to the work of one of the company’s engineers, Holger Christian Arenstein. In 1946 the company changed its name to Fonofilm Industri A/S. However, there was another problem – there was no pickup yet that could reproduce the sound in the quality in which it was recorded by the cutting head. Fonofilm engineers took up the solution to this problem.

Mono-A cartridge was developed by Holger Christian Arenstein 1948.jpg

The world’s first moving coil pickup (MC type, model AB) was released by the company in 1948. The company’s invention was later used in the mass production of mono and (later) stereo cartridges for vinyl playback. The production of AV-like models continued for more than 50 years, largely due to the interest of music lovers and collectors who restored players of those years. Just a few years later, the name we now know was first heard – a “daughter” of Fonofilm Industri A/S, Ortofon A/S, was created. The word Ortofon is a combination of two Greek words: orto (translated as “pure” or “correct”) and fon (“sound”). Mr. SPU In 1957, the company released stereo heads and began developing the SPU (stereo pick-up) pickup. Mass production began in 1959. At that time, the target audience for the development was professional sound engineers, and pickups were ordered primarily by radio companies.

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The SPU was developed by engineer Robert Gudmandsen, who later became known as “Mr. SPU.” He formulated the design principles that are still used by the company in the production of cartridges: low impedance and coils with a minimum number of turns. Gudmandsen joined the company in 1941, worked there for 50 years, and in his spare time often tested his designs at home—something his neighbors and family were very happy about, according to company representatives. Over its history, Ortofon has developed and launched hundreds of new cartridge models, developed new technologies, and even opened a branch in Japan. But many traditional practices are still used in the company.

A few more interesting facts

The main value of the company is the accuracy and quality of sound reproduction. For example, in 2016, Ortofon released a “Test Plate”: it contains test signals that help check the settings and quality of tuning of a home speaker system: frequency response, pickup quality, etc.

Mono-A cartridge was developed by Holger Chr.jpg

Modern SPUs can be distinguished from vintage ones by the plastic plate on the bottom of the pickup: in early samples it is gray, in newer ones it is black. Additionally, older pickups are labeled in silver lettering on a black background, while modern pickups are labeled in black lettering on a silver or gold background. But in terms of weight they are almost the same. Now Ortofon actively cooperates with scientific and research organizations, for example, with the Technical University of Denmark, the Danish Institute of Technology, Chalmers Technical University, etc. By the way, based on the results of the development of technology for manufacturing modern cartridges (in particular when solving the problem of mass production of microcomponents), company representatives, together with Scientists from the Technical University of Denmark have published a number of scientific papers.

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